Johnson & Johnson has unveiled plans to open four new regional hubs within the world’s leading "innovation hotspots", helping it drill into the latest technologies and research opportunities.

The US healthcare giant will open its so-called innovation centres in California, Boston, London and China, under what it says is a novel approach to speed up early innovation and enhance opportunities for collaboration and investment.

Each center will house science and technology experts and have local deal-making capabilities and, crucially, will have the flexibility for tailoring deal structures to make the most if each new opportunity. 

Under the plans, scientists, entrepreneurs and emerging companies will have "one-stop access" to experts at J&J who are able to orchestrate collaborations across its pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics and consumer arms.

"Leading innovation sources have concentrated geographic presence in selected locations around the world, and our goal is to become an active part of these ecosystems,” said Diego Miralles, head of the California innovation center, explaining the strategy behind the move. 

Simplifying the process

“By refocusing our outward facing activities and locating our experts and our deal-making capabilities in those regional hubs we can simplify the deal making and coordination for entrepreneurs who are looking to collaborate and partner with the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies,” he said.

The move is the latest in a stream of approaches by the pharma industry to stock up dwindling pipelines and overcome generic erosion of sales by tapping into academia or linking with early-stage projects.

For example, Pfizer set up its Global Centers for Therapeutic Innovation network - an innovative entrepreneurial network of partnerships with leading academic medical centres around the world - back in 2010, while Eli Lilly rolled out its Innovation Starts Here initiative - a wide-ranging platform for academic collaboration - earlier this year.